Over the past few weeks here on the site we have been preparing for what it the most important part of the Fantasy Football season. The 2014 Fantasy Draft. In this guide I will share some of the tools I use to assist in player evaluation and crafting a draft strategy.
So far this off season we’ve covered the basics including the following:
ADDITIONAL FANTASY DRAFT RESOURCES:
We aren’t done yet. To truly dominate the draft we need to understand the principles of Value Based Drafting. The TLDR version is an understanding of the relative value of a particular player versus their pier group. For example if Peyton Manning is expected to average 30pts per game and the next best QB, Brees, is projected to score 26 PPG, Manning gets a +4 advantage on a weekly basis. Footballguys.com put together an incredibly well written and statistics filled post on the subject which you can read here.
A user on Reddit, Beer4TheBeerGod has compiled and assembled one of the most impressive tiered/Value Based Drafting cheat sheets I’ve seen. He calls it the Beersheets. Rather then try to reinvent the wheel on this I encourage readers to check out the post and download the sheet. For the projections he uses a compilation of projections and rankings from fantasy experts with track records of success. They cover virtually every size and type of league from Standard Snake Drafts to Auction Leagues. I’ve gone through the projections and tiers in the sheets and for me it is a fantastic draft tool. The creator of the sheet gives it out for free via the provided link. He is also raising funds for a charity and asks that people that find the cheat sheet helpful consider giving a small contribution.
This is an excerpt from the post explaining how to use the Beersheets to assist in crafting a draft strategy:
What’s the best way to use this? Which categories should I pay attention to the most?ADP and RR (relative rank) are used to determine where a player is typically going and whether or not he’s over/under drafted at that position. The real meat of the sheet is value, tier, and positional scarcity. What I like to do is start off with value, and see which players are available within each position that have similar value. Standard deviation is important here to get a sense of how much value overlaps; a difference of a few tenths of a point isn’t significant enough to matter. I look at tier to get a sense of how many players are “clumped” together and see if I can’t get value later on.
Positional scarcity is the big one. That shows how much value is remaining in each position after a player is taken. At that point you want the player with the lower PS, because there’s less value remaining once that player is gone. This will also give you a sense of just how much value an individual player takes from the “pool” of points for each skill. For example Jimmy Graham is projected to take up 1/4 of the value of all tight ends; that’s incredible.
I put together an example you can check out here. I’ll try and make a new example every time I update the sheet, which will be weekly once preseason starts.
The cheat sheet is a lot of information at your fingertips but it still does not translate in to a complete draft strategy. The next step in the preparation process is to practice different draft strategies via mock drafts. When I want to test out mock draft strategies I use a free tool from FantasyPros.com called the Draftwizard. The tools allows you to set the parameters and do a complete mock draft in just a few minuets. I like to practice different strategies and observe how my teams look at the end.
How you navigate your draft depends on a number of factors including league size, scoring rules and where your first pick is.
For the purposes of this sample we I will take you through a draft assuming high pick (#4) in a 12 team PPR league. 1QB 3WR 2RB 1TE 1FLEX
Round 1 (pick 1.04) -Matt Forte – With Forte’ and Lacy still on the board I went with Forte’ mainly dur to the fact that I expect him to get 70+ receptions this season. If this was a standard non-ppr league the pick would be Lacy here.
Round 2 (Pick 2.9) Julio Jones – With my RB1 on lock down it was time to grab an elite WR. Tough call there between Jones and Marshall. In the end I think Jones will have a bigger season assuming he can stay healthy.
Round 3 (Pick 3.4) Rob Gronkowski – This was a tough call as some elite WR’s were still available. Cobb, Nelson and Alshon Jeffrey are all tempting options. In the end of the day I decided to go with Gronk here. Assuming he stays healthy I believe the value proposition of a player like Gronk that should outscore other TE’s by a wide margin is worth the health risk.
Round 4 (Pick 4.9) Shane Vereen – The crop of WR’s available in the middle of the 4th round are all very similar talents. Names like Victor Cruz, Patterson, White, Crabtree and Harvin were all available. The WR position is very deep this season. In a PPR league it makes sense here to get the second RB and wait a bit on the WR position.
Round 5 (Pick 5.4) Percy Harvin – With my starting TE and RB spots filled it is time to grab some PPR beasts at WR. I started with Harvin. I considered Maclin here but based on an ADP of 80 for Maclin I’m hoping he will be available when I draft in the 6th round.
Round 6 (Pick 6.9) Jeremy Maclin – I got lucky there. Sometimes understanding ADP is a big help in navigating a draft. Maclin has top 10 WR potential this season in the Eagles explosive offense.
Round 7 Pick 7.04 Stevan Ridley – With plenty of WR talent still on the board I figured I’d grab one of the last startable running backs still available. I have some sleepers to target later in the draft as well. I considered grabbing RG3 here as well.
Round 8 (Pick 8.09) Robert Griffin III – Griffin fell in my lap here.
Round 9 (Pick 9.04) Tavon Austin – At this point in the draft I’m going with my high upside sleepers at WR and RB.
Round 10 (Pick 10.09) Martellus Bennett – A high quality backup in case Gronk goes down
Round 11 (Pick 11.04) Marvin Jones – Another sleeper pick from my WR Sleepers list
Round 12 (Pick 12.09) Andre Williams RB Giants – With the news that Wilson hurt his neck again Williams makes a nice homerun play in case expected starter Rashad Jennings goes down.
Round 13 (Pick 13.04) Jordan Matthews – Another high upside WR for the bench. Rookies take a while to acclimate to the NFL. Matthews serves a dual purpose of potentially breaking out this season on his own, plus a safety net in case Maclin goes down.
Round 14 (Pick 14.09) Lance Dunbar RB Dallas –
QB – RG3
WR1 – Julio Jones
WR2 – Percy Harvin
WR3 – Jeremy Maclin
RB1 – Matt Forte
RB2 – Shane Vereen
TE – Gronk
Flex – Ridley
Bench: Austin, Bennett, Jones, Andre Williams, Jordan Matthews, Lance Dunbar
This was just a sample of how to navigate your draft this season. I went in looking to land one of the big three TE’s. In addition I generally try to be one of the last teams to grab a QB. Looking at my team it looks solid to me. Ridley may be a but of a shaky flex but the bench is loaded with potential flex starters on day one. I suspect many of my teams will have a similar look this season.